Watchdog Report Vol.15 No.4 June 1, 2014 EST 05.05.00 – I go when you cannot- Celebrating 15 Years as a Weekly

CONTENTS

Argus Report: VA. Secretary Shinseki resigns amid scandal; U.S. Sen. Nelson says he did the right thing, after being outspoken critic in past administration, Also headliner at M-DC Democratic Party fundraiser at the Biltmore Hotel

Florida: Busting of wayward judges in Broward, shows need for higher standards on bench, two candidates in Miami-Dade will get scanned by WDR, Diaz de la Portilla and Zilber all seeking a spot on the bench

— State and county leaders’ financial disclosures will be on line, some are there now, www.ethics.state.fl.us, sea change for transparency of elected official’s finances

Miami-Dade County: Homeless Trust CEO Fernandez, saying sayonara, going to academia, Trust Chair Book to look for suitable replacement in weeks to come with short time line for grant work ahead

Miami-Dade County Public Schools: Supt. Carvalho takes victory lap as commencement speaker at a variety of universities, is the public face of nation’s fourth largest public school district but he is getting the job done

Public Health Trust: FIU Medical school graduates 47 new physicians, but Dean Rock impatient, wants expanded agreement with JHS for its medical students training

City of Miami: Dust up at Miami Bayfront Park Trust on ceding control of Parcel B and FEC slip to city of Miami, how item on the agenda the dilemma of Trust board meeting, is it a part of move to make Museum Park a Conservatory pushed by Commissioner Sarnoff in the past? But now plays into MLS new stadium site getting community blowback from park advocates

Village of Coconut Grove: Playhouse selection committee should be looking at possible proposals at the end of May, says Spring –

City of Miami Beach: Beach commission agrees to help finance some $15 million in bonds for new ER at Mt. Sinai and Emergency Management Center able to withstand Cat 5 hurricane

City of Coral Gables: Search firm expected to have a candidate for Gables’s manager by “Sept,” says Mayor Cason

City of Homestead: Man Sentenced in $5 Million Identity Theft Tax Refund Check Cashing Scam Man Sentenced in $5 Million Identity Theft Tax Refund Check Cashing Scam

>>> Other stories around Florida

Broward County: Resident Pleads Guilty in $4 Million Ponzi scheme

City of Davie: Man Pleads Guilty in Large-Dollar Fraudulent Refund Scam Involving $22 Million in Claims

City of Miramar: Three Defendants Charged in Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

Palm Beach County: – Residents can review they’re top County Officials financial disclosure forms on line at http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfmo

Monroe County: FBI Fugitive Indicted with Committing Search and Rescue Hoax in the Florida Keys –Review elected leaders financial disclosure formshttp://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm

Community Events: EVITA AT ZIFF BalletFlorida League of Women Voters reminds voters’ primary elections only 100 days away

Editorials: Threats against any County Commissioner is unacceptable and shows the community is still immature when it comes to public discourse of issues; Sosa is one of the most accessible commissioners on County dais

– Check out the past 2003 national story in the Tribune papers:  Paperwork Tiger By Maya Bell, Miami Bureau, Orlando Sun-Sentinel January 20, 2003 >>> And a 2004 UNC Chapel Hill study of the Southeast United States 15 states media outlet study where the Watchdog Report is listed as writing a “influential” column in Florida with over 100,000 readers: http://www.unc.edu/~davismt/SouthNow.pdf

LETTERS:

Sponsors: Publisher’s mission statement & Subscription information is at the bottom of this issue — Scroll down for all the headline stories text.

>>> Just because you do not take an interest in politics does not mean politics will not take an interest in you. –Pericles (430 B.C.)

>>> The Watchdog Report publisher would like to thank the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation www.knightfoundation.org for funding by the Knight Foundation with technical support from the Knight Center for International Media http://knight.miami.edu within the University of Miami’s School of Communication www.miami.edu to maintain my webpage. The Watchdog Report webpage is free, has no pops-up and is just the news in a mainstream reporting manner.

>>>> The Watchdog Report is scheduled to be on WLRN 91.3 FM on Jun.2 on Topical Currents from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. and the subject will be transportation issues in Miami-Dade County and on the panel will be County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and readers should listen in if you get a chance re this vexing subject that drives South Florida drivers nuts >>>Press release: TOPICAL CURRENTS, MONDAY JUNE 2, 2014 - The future of the Public Transportation System in Miami-Dade County

Monday’s Topical Currents looks at the future of public transportation in Miami-Dade County. We’ll consider the Baylink Project- the light rail that would connect Miami Beach to Downtown Miami.  We’ll also discuss the newly initiated Beach Corridor Transit Connection Study among other topics (e.g. All Aboard FL, Miami-Dade Tri-rail Coastal Link, Metrorail, Miami Intermodal Center/MIC).

We’ll be joined in the studio by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Alexander Heckler, co-managing partner of LSN Partners, and Daniel A. Ricker, publisher of the online Watchdog Report www.watchdogreport.net

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Streets

>>>> Va. Secretary Shinseki resigns amid scandal; U.S. Sen. Nelson says he did the right thing, after being outspoken critic in past administration, Also headliner at M-DC Democratic Party fundraiser at the Biltmore Hotel

Further, Nelson in a press release believes the President Barack Obama administration should do more when it comes to putting pressure on local Venezuelans living in the United States and in a press release the senior Senator from Florida believes the president could punish the “people from Venezuela living in the U.S. where they’re bank accounts could be frozen.” Should be considered by the administration, he is suggesting. The senator reelected in 2010 also commented on the resignation of  Gen. Shinseki who has resigned as the Secretary of the Veterans Administration and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fl had a news conference last week calling for more sanctions against certain Venezuelans. http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2014/04/in-miami-marco-rubio-and-bill-nelson-renew-call-for-us-sanctions-against-venezuela.html

Further Nelson was the head line speaker at a Miami-Dade County Democratic Party fundraiser at the Historic Biltmore Hotel Thursday night where attendees watched the Miami Heat Playoff game. The senator reelected in 2010 also commented on the resignation of  Gen. Shinseki who has resigned as the Secretary of the Veterans Administration and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fl had a news conference last week calling for more sanctions against certain Venezuelan nationals and the long serving lawmaker, Nelson has been coy about if he had any interest in running for governor against GOP Gov. Rick Scott and it is unknown if gubernatorial candidate former state Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston  who is also a trailing candidate in the polls but she is also a democratic Party candidate along with former Gov. Charlie Crist attended the Gables event. However, Nelson has increased his visibility in South Florida over the months and he held a U.S. Senate hearing on rising sea levels in Miami Beach recently. And some political pundits are wondering if he is thinking about running against Scott though others argue, he is in a safe seat, just reelected and why would he want to jump into what is seen as a expensive contentious statewide race but he is amping up his visibility in the community and being the big name at this fundraiser for local Democrats is a start at laying and building a base within the Party faithful. And Watchdog Report believes Nelson will not run and will stay in the nation’s most exclusive club for the near future.

Press release: Sen. Bill Nelson’s comment on Gen. Shinseki

Click here to download audio of Nelson’s comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Gen. Shinseki announced his resignation today after meeting with the president.  U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) is a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and has known the general for a number of years.  He’s also been been an outspoken advocate for veterans.  Following is his comment:

“He did the right thing, and he’s putting his country first. This is a strong, patriotic general who stood up to Donald Rumsfeld about the length of time that we were going to have to be in Iraq. Now that he resigned, we can get on. There ought to be a lot of heads rolling, because there is something in the culture of the VA that is not responding to serve our veterans the very best that they deserve.”

Sen. Nelson is in town for a briefing at SOUTHCOM today and then, this evening, he plans to attend a Miami-Dade democratic dinner.  We’ve gotten questions this morning on the Florida suicide bomber in Syria, the latest on Venezuela, not to mention the VA and Shinseki.

>>> PAST WDR: With the VA controversy, The President Barack Obama administration is facing an up hill battle to put on a happy face on Memorial Day for veterans after decades of war and millions of returning veterans returning with PTSDT and suicides of servicemen going through the roof. http://maketheconnection.net/conditions/ptsd?gclid=CNPD5oenx74CFSJqOgodBSIAiA Pundits note the federal hospital system with 150 hospitals and 100 out patient clinics, has always had issues but the president wanted to change that perception and situation, when he was first elected in 2008, but since then, federal funding has not kept up with the hundreds of thousands of returning soldiers often times having served multiple deployments over seas. And  if the Obama administration cannot get a handle and right the large healthcare system’s treatment of veterans it could become his legacy as more of these returning veterans demand treatment, and similar problems were occurring back in the 1990s after the first Gulf War and the federal government needs to get this corrected for these men and women that  have given their country this service that for some included giving the full measure and many Capital Hill leaders are calling for the VA Sec. Eric Shinseki’s, departure, though he is a retired U.S. Army four star general to step down, but the West Point graduate is staying at his post, and he was twice wounded in combat  in Vietnam. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Military/2014/0524/Eric-Shinseki-Obama-sticks-with-embattled-Veterans-Affairs-chief-for-now-video

However, While President Barack Obama is embroiled with the Veterans Administration Hospital scandals that continue to have veterans or their family members stepping forward saying that  there loved one did not get proper healthcare.

>>> Zogby pres release: Democrats Lose Edge on Some Key Issues, According to New Zogby Analytics Poll By: John Zogby Forbes.com Contributor

Among the key factors leading to the re-election of President Barack Obama was voter perception that he was better equipped to handle national security and diplomacy than the GOP. Much of this was attributable to some key achievements during his first term: the capture and elimination of arch-terrorist Osama bin Laden, high profile trips to Europe, Asia and the Middle East to mend the United States’ image abroad, and the general popularity of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Having a Democrat perceived as stronger on national security and foreign affairs was no small feat. Back in 2004, Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry led President George W. Bush on nine of the top ten issues, according to Zogby polls. But it was Mr. Bush’s 67% to 24% lead over Mr. Kerry on handling national security that ultimately gave the Republican incumbent the victory. Please click on the link below to view the full release:
http://zogbyanalytics.com/news/456-democrats-lose-edge-on-some-key-issues-according-to-new-zogby-analytics-poll

>>> National profile of the publisher in The Tribune papers Jan. 2003 & UNCCH 2004 media study that cites Watchdog Report having 100,000 readers weekly

To read a national story run in the Tribune papers on my life and how this all began done by Orlando Sentinel featured reporter Maya Bell go to: To read the section’s large front page story, but without the photos and smart box graphics, go to: `I Go When You Cannot’ – Sun Sentinel 20 Jan 2003 … Sometimes Dan Ricker lives in the dark so others may live in the light. … to his weekly Watchdog Report have finally mailed their checks. … http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2003-01-20/news/0301190341_1_ricker-school-board-president-miami-s-first-cuban-american >>>  And to read a University of North Carolina Chapel Hill study on the media in the Southeast United States that mentions the Watchdog Report with 100,000 readers weekly, done back in 2004 and to read the Southern Media Study go to: Daniel Ricker of the Miami Herald also writes an “influential column,” as well as an email newsletter called the Watchdog Report that goes out to more than … – - Cached.

>>> All photos in the Watchdog Report are taken from public government sites, and the Report goes on line at www.watchdogreport.net on Monday sometime during the day usually. >>> If you believe it is important to have someone watching your public institutions consider supporting the Watchdog Report for I am a low cost news service yet I do have to live, thank you! Further, I have been honored over the years by being named a WFOR-4 Hometown Hero in 2000, being profiled in a major way by The Miami New Times, twice in The Miami Herald, and the Orlando Sentinel which ran as a nationwide story on me in the Tribune papers on Jan. 2003 and UNC Chapel Hill naming me one of the top columnists in Florida in a  multi-state study of the media back in 2004. I also thank Joseph Cooper for the opportunity to be on the WLRN/NPR showTopical Currents on www.wlrn.org since 2000, including yearly election coverage since then, and also numerous times over the past decade. Further, I am a frequent guest on WWW.WPBT2.ORG on Helen Ferre’s show Issues, and have also appeared on  Eliott Rodriguez’s show News & Views.

>>> See what was said about the Watchdog Report in the Miami New Times 2003 — Best of Miami — BEST CITIZEN  — Daniel A. Ricker

Three years ago, we said Ricker was our Best Gadfly. Given his dedication and perseverance, this new honor, Best Citizen, is well deserved. Ricker goes to 2,500 mind-melting meetings annually, from the Public Health Trust’s purchasing subcommittee to the Efficiency and Competition Commission to the Alliance for Human Services’ nominating council to the school board’s audit committee. Sometimes he’s the only public observer. Object: to be the Public Citizen for all those out there who can’t attend, and to connect and serve as an information bridge among the special-interest-dominated Miami-Dade governmental institutions that seem so problematic and indifferent to the democratic process.

This month his e-mail newsletter, The Watchdog Report, celebrates its (15th) anniversary. In a former life, Ricker made a handsome living as an international salesman of heart pacemakers. As the hard-working publisher of Watchdog Report, though,  —  his weekly compendium of meeting summaries, analysis, interviews, and commentary has become essential reading for anyone involved in public affairs. What his written work may lack in polish, it more than makes up for in comprehensiveness. So raise a toast to the man whose official slogan says it all: “A community education resource — I go when you cannot!

FLORIDA

>>>> Busting of wayward judges in Broward, shows need for higher standards on bench, two candidates in Miami-Dade will get scanned by WDR, Diaz de la Portilla and Zilber all seeking a spot on the bench in Aug.

With a number of judges in Broward County recently having issues, the Watchdog Report is going to profile in the future some of the judicial candidates running in Miami-Dade County judicial races because there are a few that don’t have the legal experience, temperament or ability to be an effective circuit court judge and while most of the time I do not know many of the candidates running for this countywide office. In the coming election cycle I know two of the candidates. Former school board member Renier Diaz del la Portilla and Martin Zilbeer, running once again after not making the runoff back in 2000 when he last ran to be on the bench and Zilber was a trustee on the Public health Trust board and to say he was a disappointment on that body is a understatement.


Scott

Crist

Rich

>>> And if you ever thought about adopting a child, check out the great kids on the Children’s Trust’s Heart Gallery page http://www.miamiheartgallery.org/#start looking for a home and great new parents.
>>>Press release: Gov. Scott Statement on Memorial Day – Governor Rick Scott said, “My wife Ann and I join Floridians this Memorial Day in honoring the men and women of the United States military who have given their lives to serve our country throughout our nation’s history. It is because of their bravery and sacrifice that we are able to enjoy the freedoms of our great country and have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. We continue to pray for the members and families of the Armed Forces who are honorably serving today.

“As we take this opportunity to join our families and friends in enjoying everything our beautiful state has to offer, I urge all Floridians to pause for one minute to observe the National Moment of Remembrance to honor America’s fallen on Monday at 3:00 p.m. local time. This moment should serve as a time to remember, reflect, and honor the men and women of our military who have bravely served our state and our nation.”

>>> Children’s Movement of Florida  Voices of Florida – We all have a story, a story that defines us. It is our collective story, our challenges and our triumphs that inspire a movement. Floridians from all walks of life have joined together with an understanding that the future of our state rests on the well-being of our children. Visit The Children’s Movement website to read their stories and share your own. >>> I find it unacceptable, as all of us should, that at least a half-million children in Florida – all citizens — have no health insurance. How could this be in our beloved country that seeks to be a beacon to the world? Health insurance for all children is one of the five major planks of The Children’s Movement. With the support of Florida Covering Kids and Families, The Children’s Movement is working with dozens of local partners to help build a meaningful signing-up initiative in more than a dozen Florida communities. Already we have: Completed 18 KidCare trainings around the state. Signed up, trained and deployed more than a hundred volunteers. Begun to build a growing collaboration between local school districts and KidCare outreach coalitions. It’s a good start, but only the start. If you’d like to become a volunteer, just click here. Another way to help is to make a contribution – of any size – to help support this work. It is easy. Just click here. A real movement isn’t possible without your helping in some meaningful way. Dave Lawrence, Jr., Chair The Children’s Movement.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

>>> Homeless Trust CEO Fernandez, saying sayonara, going to academia, Trust Chair Book to look for suitable replacement in weeks to come with short time line for grant work ahead

The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust announced Friday that executive Director Hilda Fernandez is sayiing sayonara to her second duty of leadership of the Trust after she retuned to the executive position some two years ago. She has accepted a position at St. Thomas University as a Senior Vice President Development Advancement, Marketing Communications and Alumni Programs overseeing their Development of student Advancement and she will be leaving the Trust in late June. Fernandez since her return after working as a assisatant manager at the City of Miami Beach, has done a first rate job, especially when it comes to competitive HUD yearly grants where the county’s applications have excelled and brought some $49 million in federal funding over the more current years and she replaced David Raymond in the position who left after a essentially salary dispute and Fernandez may have had a similar choice and Trust Chair Ron Book noted during the monthly Trust meeting Friday morning held in the county commission Chambers that they could not compete witht the opportunity that Fernandez was given at the university.

However, Trust Chair Ron Book said finding her replacement was the “prerogative, of the chair,” though the county ordinance indicates the manager must approve the selection, and when Trustee Bob Dickinson made a motion to vote on whether to do a national earch for her replacement. The Trust board ultimately voted that down since past directors found by the chair have all been outstanding, and Book believed there was “enough local talent,” to fill that important executive director post rather than search nationally, which would take time and Book said in the future he would bring forth some names that might fill the bill, but that response had Dickinson asking why not a national search? Since many cities also have great homeless programs such as “Philadelphia,” he said. But Rabbi Solomon Schiff said, “Why try to fix something that is not broken,” he thought when it came to the selection process and during the discussion the vote was to have Book look for Fernandez’s replacement and for him to bring a suitable candidate in the near future. However, the Watchdog Report was sent the ordinance and it sates “the board of trustees shall select with the approval of the mayor The Executive Director of the Trust.” >>> Here is the actual wording in the ordinance on the matter. The board of trustees shall select, with the approval of the County Manager, the Executive Director of the Trust. The Clerk of the Board shall record all meetings of the trust and the County Manager shall provide to the trust adequate staff and support services to enable the trust to carry out its duties and responsibilities and shall continue to coordinate all homeless provider services and assist homeless providers in applying for grants and other available funds.

Fernandez also noted at the meeting that expected federal HUD funding “would be flat” this year and having a complete and thorough application for this federal funding was necessary since it also has gotten more competitive.

>>> Trust press release: Five Students Win Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust’s 2014 Homeless Awareness and Sensitivity Poster and Essay Contest -More Than Two Hundred Entries From Twenty Different Miami-Dade County Public Schools Reviewed

Five Miami-Dade County Public School students took home prizes for submitting winning artwork and essays as part of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust’s annual “Homeless Awareness and Sensitivity Poster and Essay Contest”.  Winners were announced at the monthly Homeless Trust Board meeting on May 30, 2014.  This year’s contest, a partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Project UP-START Homeless Education Program, resulted in the submission of more than 200 entries from more than 20 different elementary, middle and high schools. The contest is designed to combat bullying, teach students the best way  to help the homeless and underscore the fact that homelessness has no age or borders.

“To read the essays written by formerly homeless students that tell about their own personal experiences and how they are overcoming tremendous obstacles was moving,” said Ronald L. Book, Chairman of The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust. “The accounts from these students – children – and the artwork shared with us, illustrate that students truly understand the role they can play in helping and respecting the homeless.  It’s not a job just for the professionals; there is something everyone can do.”

The student winners are:Essay Contest (for high school students only):  Itara Moore, a 10th grader at Coral Reef Sr. High School High School Poster Contest:  Kathleen Willis and Jose Broche, both tied for first place.  The 9th grade students are from Miami’s Design and Architecture School (D.A.S.H.) Middle School Poster Contest:  Eliza Semple, a 7th grader from Highland Oaks Middle School

Elementary School Poster Contest:  Sarah Pareja, a 4th grader from Eugenia B. Thomas K-8 Center

Winning students receive a Samsung Galaxy Tablet and their supporting teachers and/or administrators at the winning schools receive a Kindle Fire. Honorable Mentions were selected and will receive Target gift cards.

>>> BCC honors Hudack, first woman manager in her 30 years with the county

Alina T. Hudack,was honored by the County Commission for her 30 years with the county and she was the first female county manager a few years ago and Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who she works for joked in her household and family, it was a” a King in a strong Queen form of government he joked and Hudack thanked all her county employees, daughters and husband Ed who is a Coral Gables Police Major in the tony municipality and she grew up in Westchester and has degrees from the University of Miami here she never misses a “Canes” football game said Gimenez. Hudak, currently a Deputy Mayor in the  Gimenez administration is currently the interim director of public Works and Waste Management for the county and over the decades she has managed a host of county departments and she mentored a host of county executives over those years. In this interim capacity she has responsibility for some 200 bridges and over 1,000 traffic lights throughout the county.

Hudak

>>> Dept service for transit capital projects absorbs bulk of half-cent sales tax revenue along with cost of free metromover downtown

A budget hearing done last week by transit director Ysela Llort in front of Miami Commissioner Estephan Bovo’s finance Committee. She noted when it came to the use of the half cent sales tax passed by voters in 20002 for an expanded public transportation system, that the bulk of the money now is going to debt service and the cost of the free metromovr, the Golden Passport program for seniors and the Patriot Pass. And these free rider programs have also eaten into this some $1 billion in revenue the sales tax has generated over the years. Further 20 percent of that money is split between the county’s 32 municipalities and all these things were part of the benefits told to voters at the time of the vote (and the department now is looking at a $13 billion budget hole in the coming year at current expense service levels) and the director would like to be able to charge for the now free inner city Metro mover. However, one woman living on Brickell said that while she loves public transportation, she believes in Miami “transit is a nightmare,” she told the commissioner.

Bovo

PAST WDR: Further, when it comes to the new Miami Science Museum being constructed in Museum Park and its management contractor being dismissed recently. No one was talking at Miami-Dade County about the new wrinkle in the project that got a $275 million slug of public GOP money from the county and the Watchdog Report asked County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Cultural Affairs Director Michael Spring and both said they were aware of some issues, but “no more money” was coming from the county they both suggested, since the County has a $200 million budget hole to plug and when it comes to finding spare money as in many past years, “there is no more magic,” in the county’s budget since some $4 billion has been cut out of the county budget since around 2008, said one long time experienced budget expert at the county.  And the reason the Watchdog Report is so interested in what is going on over at the Frost Museum and if there will be a need for money to finish the impressive, but complex facility, it is because there is now no more money and while the Museum has raised some $80 million on its own. It is unknown if the organization can fill in any fiscal gap. And here is the Museum’s website that talks about a new management company being selected and Spring told the Watchdog Report that the “project will not become a PACT II ,” he assured me last week. http://www.frostscience.org/blog/ http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/16/4121231/new-contractor-named-for-frost.html http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/24/miami-science-museum-breaks-ground_n_1298730.html

>> With the Miami-Dade County preliminary Property tax base number coming in at 6.5 percent through Jan. http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/30/4147259/miami-dade-countys-property-tax.html and a total valuation of $209.9 billion which is the third straight year of property valuation growth that at its peak before the Great Recession came in at $245 billion and with this new anticipated tax revenue bump that will help the more affluent municipalities along the water when it comes to rising property tax values. However, at the county this could be a major break since there already is a $150.5 million revenue budget gap in the next year’s budget and the extra revenue is going to buffer some of the projected layoffs or departmental reductions in service and even The Children’s Trust which levies a small property tax millage will benefit by this potentially new revenue, as governments have cut back services and some retirement benefits. But critics argue public institutions should not go crazy with this extra revenue after years of frugality and while property tax values have gone through the ceiling in many markets. Skeptics note some of the environment in the heated housing market is similar in some ways before the crash.

“BullS,” was how this week’s story in The Miami Herald was described by one county employee who noted the commission was aware of the transfer of these tourist tax dollars funds generate by touristshttp://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/29/4146147/miami-dade-finds-a-way-to-have.html, but the provocative analysis by Herald reporter Doug Hanks gives residents a peek into the some 72 revenue streams that produce income for the county.

Former mayor, law professor are newest ethics commissioners

Press release: The first mayor of the City of Doral, Juan Carlos Bermudez, and St. Thomas University Assistant Professor of Law Marcia Narine were sworn in this morning as commissioners on the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust.   Mr. Bermudez is the appointee of the Miami-Dade League of Cities, replacing Kerry Rosenthal.  Ms. Narine fills the position jointly appointed by the Law Schools of St. Thomas and the University of Miami, which was recently vacated by U.M. Prof. Charlton Copeland.  The Chief Judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit, Bertila Soto, administered the oath of office in her courtroom.

J. C. Bermudez is of counsel at Akerman Senterfitt, where he specializes in land use and zoning, governmental law and procurement and international real estate investment.  He was instrumental in the incorporation of Doral and served as the city’s first mayor for two terms.  Mr. Bermudez is a past president of the Miami-Dade League of Cities and currently serves on the executive board member of the Beacon Council and on the Adrienne Arsht Center Community Affairs Task Force.   The graduate of the University of Norte Dame law school earned his Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Miami.

Marcia Narine teaches civil procedure, corporate governance, compliance, social responsibility, legal ethics, human rights and employment law.  Prior to joining St. Thomas University, she was a visiting assistant professor of law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and served as Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at Ryder System, Inc.   Prof. Narine is a member of Leadership Florida and has been a court-appointed guardian ad litem for abused and neglected children.  The Harvard Law School graduate earned her bachelor’s degree from Columbia University.

Earlier this month, Dr. Judith Bernier, Academic Program Director for Florida International University’s Center for Labor Research and Studies, took the oath of office, marking the largest change in the makeup of the five-person Ethics Commission in one month since its formation. The Ethics Commission was created in 1996 as an independent agency with advisory and quasi-judicial powers. It is composed of five members, serving staggered terms of four years each. Through a program of education, outreach and enforcement, the Commission seeks to empower the community and bolster public trust.

>>>> GMCVB Press release: In the months of January – March 2014, passengers through Port Miami reached record levels with an increase of +13.5% compared to the same time last year. Sustained growth is due in part to the arrival of new, larger vessels and the variety of cruise options offered PortMiami Passengers

January – March
2014
January – March
2013
% Change
1,554,730 1,369,071 +13.5%

PAST WDR: It has happened, the Patricia and Phillip Frost $275 million new museum of Science at Museum Park in Bicentennial Park has run into trouble http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/16/4121231/new-contractor-named-for-frost.html and the Watchdog Report has been concerned about this type of possibility of problems. Since the first public dollars allocated in a countywide bond were allocated to the project, and includes some $165 million of this public bond money, and another $100 million of the GOB was dedicated to the new Perez Art Museum nearby to the science museum and that opened on time and within budget.

However, the public and press was not able to attend the Science Museum’s board meeting’s to get a heads up on any issues that might be developing early on, and that includes the County’s Inspector General being barred from the proceedings. And even worse was Mayor Carlos Gimenez only learned last week that there were some problems with the construction company’s management with the facility half complete. Gillian Thomas the Museum CEO has always been the public face of the project, and it is concerning that these difficulties did not come to light earlier.

Since a significant amount of public money is involved and Gimenez needs to get on top of this issue, for it has the making of not only being delayed, but perhaps forcing the need for more public funds. Something requested at past internal budget meetings and had Thomas always seeking more public funds and she always assured people at the meeting that everything was going well back then. However, it is now clear that was not the case and the community and County may end up holding the fiscal bag since the facility must be completed to avoid another large hole, similar to what happened with the Arsht Center back in 2004, where the County and City of Miami pumped a couple of hundred million dollars more into the project to complete the $472 million twin hall Arts Center.

Further, Gillian gets prickly when she is challenged in anyway and when she first came to the museum around 2003. She attended a county commission meeting and in a presentation essentially demanded the County Commissioners approve a separate bond request for the organization, which commissioners balked at and suggested any funding be included in the $2.9 billion GOB that was being discussed by the body and when voters passed that issuance back in 2004.

The Science Museum got the new financing that it wanted to build this new facility, but much of it since then has been on a wing and a prayer concerning what was going on over there at the construction site. Gillian says it was a difficult decision but the sudden nature of the issue should give County Commissioners pause and what was surprising is at the County’s Cultural Affairs Council over the past years which I cover fairly often. None of these construction problems were ever brought up and the Watchdog Report was surprised at this Miami Herald story for there had not been a hint of such a major issue with the management construction company, Suffolk Construction in the public media domain prior to this story.

Further, the Company Suffolk Construction, is widely respected and while a number of  is also building the new Juvenile Justice Courthouse next door to county hall and that project, while having some change order issues is going better, and it remains to be seen what the final cost will be to complete the Science Museum. And readers should stay tuned and see how this construction issue finally pans out.

>>>PAST WDR: Water & Sewer Director Johnson jokes his new assignment is as “the toilet czar,” given the billions being spent to correct infrastructure under federal decree

Bill Johnson, the new Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer Director in charge of implementing a multi billion dollar replumbing of the county’s extensive sewer facilities that will proceed under a federal judge’s watchful eye since the county entered into a federal consent decree on the matter. The Watchdog Report Tuesday asked Johnson, the former Port of Miami director how this new assignment was going and he joked. “Just call me the toilet czar,” and the long serving county employee is expected to get the job done, even though it is not as glamorous as some of his past assignments over the decades. He also said the upcoming decades long replumbing of infrastructure is “one of the most ambitious capital projects in the nation,” he told county commissioners.

What about the issue of sea level rise in the $12.6 billion new water and sewer infrastructure plan?

Bill Johnson last week at a county commission committee meeting said there is a “misperception [by many in the community],” that the $12. 6 billion upcoming upgrades in the water and sewer system plan did not take into account sea level rises, and while not detailed in a federal consent decree agreed to by the county in federal court. Johnson said for years the department has “taken into account these issues,” and has “been very aggressive,” on the matter and is one of the “leading entities” in the nation when it came to “sea level rise,” mitigation here in South Florida and a report on the matter done last year validates these concerns, and the 35 year county employee noted. The department “was highly sensitive to sea level rising,” and its impact on these new projects and it was being factored into the plan he said to committee members last week. Further, Johnson suggested in his opinion the actual projects when completed in the decades to come will cost slightly more and he suggested a more accurate number could be “around $13.6 billion” in the years to come.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

>>> Supt. Carvalho takes victory lap as commencement speaker at a variety of universities, is the public face of nation’s fourth largest public school district but he is getting the job done

>>> With Graduation ceremonies’ going on throughout Miami-Dade county this week the events have District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho busy and last week he was shuttling to and from some of these ceremonies that included the University of Miami and Florida International University’s commencements and he is an inspired speaker who rose through the ranks to become recently the top public schools administrator in the nation.

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

>>> FIU Medical school graduates 47 new physicians, but Dean Rock impatient, wants expanded agreement with JHS for its medical students training

Florida International University Medical College Dean John Rock, M.D. giving his report at the PHT monthly televised meeting last week asked that the administration work to get an expanded agreement with the Herbert Weitheim Medical College and JHS CEO Carlos Migoya, a FIU graduate said he understood the need and it would be forth coming in the weeks ahead. Rock also noted that “47 newly minted physicians” had graduated and next year’s class would be made up of 80 students and the new medical school is nearing its “full capacity of 120 students” in the coming years, and he noted. The medical school has been negotiating with Jackson Health System to allow more of its physicians and interns to train at the health system similar to the affiliation JHS has with the UM Miller School of Medicine.

CITY OF MIAMI

>>> Dust up at Miami Bayfront Park Trust on ceding control of Parcel B and FEC slip to city of Miami, how item got on the agenda the dilemma of Trust board meeting, is it part of move to make Museum Park a Conservatory pushed by Commissioner Sarnoff in the past? But now plays into MLS new stadium site now getting community blowback from park advocates, planning an Occupy Museum Park demonstration Jun.14.

A dustup at the Miami Bayfront Trust meeting occurred last week when a agenda item potentially transferring Parcel B and the FEC boat slip located on Bicentennial Park to the City of Miami suddenly appeared on the agenda and had had Trust Chair Frank Carollo demanding to know how the item was added to the agenda, since he did not even get a courtesy call. http://www.wsvn.com/story/25624258/battle-over-boat-slip-for-potential-mls-miami-stadium However, all this drama is related to a new Major League Soccer stadium on the waterfront site that has park advocates howling in protest. The city of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado has stated in the past any deal with MLS soccer super star David Beckham’s investment group would ultimately go to voters in November seeking they’re approval and to hear what park proponents want go to Helen Ferre’s show Issues, where she interviews www.UEL.org representative and  long time park advocate Gregory Bush  http://wpbt2.typepad.com/issues/2014/05/this-week-on-issues-530-601.html

And County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has said he believes the waterfront land involved for the new stadium was “one of the most valuable pieces of property in Miami today,” he told County Commissioners recently, and the mayor believes the Beckham plan would expand Museum Park located on Bicentennial Park to some 28 acres and would finally connect the waterfront allowing local residents access to the waterfront and the project would “activate” the area for visitors. Further, years ago, Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff wanted to create a conservatory to run Museum Park located on Bicentennial Park and this recent move may have something to do with the city commissssioner’s interest in taking over the Trust and control of the waterfront property. Editor’s note: after 20 years of watching city of Miami government, the sudden addition of legislation at the meeting harkens back to the 2980s and residents should keep n eye on this matter for there is a lot of behind the scenes activities and all sides should have their say, but it also all should be done in a transparent manner.

>>>PAST WDR: Mayor Regalado says he expects Miami commission to be “cooperative” when it came to Beckham deal for soccer stadium at FEC slip site

The Watchdog Report asked Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado if he thought the issue of a new MLS stadium would become a political issue with the commission which has happened many times before and the reelected mayor thought if they were properly briefed and it was a good deal, “the commission would be cooperative,”  he thought and he did not anticipate much resistance since he thought there was  a general level of support on the five member dais for the land swap of the FEC slip the city got back in 1949, the mayor said. And after MLS super star David Beckham showcased the new proposed design this week and makes an expanded Park area. Regalado noted the area known as “Parcel B” was always “understood to be a park,” and he seemed to not consider it as a big of a plus for the deal that the Beckham representatives suggested he said. He also noted that Miami Manager Daniel J. Alfonso was working with consultants o determine the FEC site’s value after it was filled in and the cost estimate of its value would not be “the highest or best use,” of the e new property, said Regalado. And to watch Regalado on WWPBT/Issues Sunday discussing the deal go to  http://video.wpbt2.org/video/2365239278/

>>> PAST WDR: Miami and County leaders both call for voter approval if new Beckham soccer stadium at FTC site is to be considered, Miami commission could be new wrinkle in the process

The fact that MLS super Star David Beckham is looking at alternative sites to put a new major league stadium and includes the FTC slip site next to the AAA arena. With that site MLS has now added the city of Miami and commissioners to the upcoming discussions, after Miami leaders were not included in earlier discussions going on with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and involved a Port Miami possible site that is meeting political resistance.

Since the Beckham group has indicated the FEC site could be considered Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado has stated it would require a vote in November of Miami residents since it is a waterfront site and County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has supported such a vote as well, but that vote is slowing the process down that Beckham had wanted to nail down by the end of summer, but the introduction of Miami into the process is a new wrinkle and makes the negotiations more complex. If the past is any indication and what went on with the controversial Miami Marlins botched stadium deal, which is still a hot button in the community and is said to have put a cloud in the publics mind over these new soccer stadium negotiations. http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/14/4116889/referendum-appears-increasingly.html#

Regalado

VILLAGE OF COCONUT

>>>> Playhouse selection commit should be looking at possible proposals at the end of May, says Spring

Michael Spring told the County’s Cultural Affairs Council Wednesday, that when it came to the Coconut Grove Playhouse, the selection committee reviewing the proposals  should make their decision by May 23 a deadline that was extended a week and the “mayor and a team” of others will review these conceptual plans and while many believe there was a engineering study done, there is no “engineering study on the building itself,” said Spring and when it came to past public meetings on what should be done with the iconic historic structure they “have gotten lots of feedback from the community,” he said. Further, Spring said the project is still causing “a lot of rumors,” and the “project is “fraught with a lot of conspiracies,” he told the Council members, and by May 30th the proposals should be n front of the selection committee said Spring and they will “rank” the top proposals said Spring.

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH

>>> Beach commission agrees to help finance some $15 million in bonds for new ER at Mt. Sinai and Emergency Management Center able to withstand Cat 5 hurricane

>>> The Miami Beach Commissioners gave the go ahead to sell some $15 million in bonds to finance Mt.Sinai Medical Center’s new emergency room and an Emergency Management headquarters for the city capable of withstanding a Cat. 5 hurricane and the hospital is the only medical facility on the island and years earlier had the city underwrite some $270 million in revenue bonds for the health system which at the time was a contentious discussion on the dais but was ultimately approved after a host of Beach community leaders supported the securities issuances, including Norman Braman, Stanley G. Tate and banker Leonard Abesss back then in 2002 and the issue was written about extensively in past Watchdog Report’s at the time. And Mt. Sinai is now still running in the black. After years of red ink even though it gives almost $100 million in charity care, but its importance to city residents and tourists who might need medical care is a big selling point for the medical center  doing this new deal with the city. http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/28/4143826/miami-beach-moves-toward-15-million.html

>>>> TMBC Meeting Date:   Tuesday June 3rd, 2014, Meeting Time:         8:30 AM

Meeting Place:Abuela’s Cuban Kitchen, 1654 Meridian Ave., South Beach

Miami Beach Commissioner Joy Malakoff will be the guest speaker at the June 3rd meeting of the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club.  She will be joined by City Attorney Raul Aguila for a continuation of last weeks discussion of the seven referendum issues on the August 26th Special Election ballot, as well as on other issues. There is no charge for attending and everyone is welcome. David Kelsey, Moderator Visit our web site at www.MBTMBC.com (Miami Beach Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club).

CITY OF CORAL GABLES

>>> Search firm expected to have a candidate for Gables’s manager by “Sept,” says Mayor Cason

With the city looking for a new manager after Pat Salarno resigned suddenly. The Watchdog Report contacted Mayor Jim Cason and asked how the process was going and he came back by email that “[the}Search firm hired to do the national search . Expects to have a candidate selected [by] mid –Sept,” wrote Cason in his second term as mayor.

>>>> Press release: Investment Management Consultant PONCE BUSINESS ASSOCIATION P.O. Box 141651 Coral Gables, FL  33114 www.poncebusiness.com poncebusiness@gmail.com

“Keeping you abreast of the pressing issues affecting Coral Gables.” We meet the first and third Mondays of the month at JohnMartins restaurant (253 Miracle Mile – 2nd floor) at noon.  Lunch is $20 for members and $25 for non-members

Next Meeting June 2nd, 2014, Speaker – Christine Rupp (Director of Coral Gables Museum) Ladies & Gentlemen, Good afternoon members.  We look forward to seeing everyone this coming Monday. Future Speakers

June 2nd, 2014 –Christine Rupp – Director of Coral Gables Museum

June 16th, 2014 -Pedro Garcia, Former Miami-Dade Property Appraiser and candidate for office in August Election July 7, 2014 -Joe Martinez – Running for congress  Van Martin President The Ponce Business Association is a civic non-profit organization

CITY OF HOMESTEAD

>>>> Homestead Man Sentenced in $5 Million Identity Theft Tax Refund Check Cashing Scam

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service (USSS), and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that Marcelin Jean Louis, 40, of Homestead, was sentenced to 60 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A, for a tax refund scheme that resulted in the cashing of approximately $5 million in fraudulent tax refund checks. The defendant was also ordered to pay $4.5 million in restitution.

According to the plea documents, from in or around March 2012, through in or around October 2012, Louis obtained U.S. Department of Treasury tax refund checks from various individuals, which checks had been fraudulently obtained. The defendant brought the fraudulently obtained U.S. Department of Treasury tax refund checks to a co-conspirator to be cashed. In total, during this period, Louis cashed thousands of these fraudulently obtained income tax refund checks (the total amount of tax refund checks cashed by Argo Check Cashing during this period totaled approximately $5MM). In order to cash the checks, Louis brought copies of fake driver’s licenses with the name of the individual on the tax refund check. According to the plea documents, Louis knew that the checks had been obtained by fraud and – to compensate him for the risk of cashing fraudulent checks – he received approximately 20% of the value of the checks. The defendant admitted in a recording with the owner of the store that he knew that the checks had been obtained by fraud. According to statements made at sentencing, Louis agreed to turn over six different houses, one vehicle, and other assets totaling nearly $1 million.  Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and USSS. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA

BROWARD COUNTY

>>> Broward Resident Pleads Guilty in $4 Million Ponzi Scheme

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Eric I. Bustillo, Director of Miami Regional Office of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), announce that Jenny Coplan, 55, of Lauderhill, pled guilty for her role in an investment fraud scheme. Sentencing for Coplan is scheduled for August 29, 2013 at 9:30 a.m.

Coplan pled guilty to one count of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, Untied States Code, Section 1343.  At sentencing, the defendant faces a maximum term of 22 years in prison. According to the plea documents, Coplan was the president of Immigration General Services, LLC (IGS) and solicited investors for purported investments in federal bail and immigration bonds. Coplan promised investors interest rates on their investments that exceeded 60% a year.

According to the plea documents, to induce investors to invest money with IGS, Coplan made material oral misrepresentations, which included, among others, promises that the investments were insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Company, that the investments were secure and had little risk, and that Coplan had the experience and licenses to invest in these bonds. Further, to induce investors to invest money with IGS and to keep their investment with IGS, Coplan made material written misrepresentations to investors, including, among others, providing investors fraudulent and fictitious financial statements and fraudulent and fictitious e-mails from the bond corporation in which investors were purportedly investing.

According to the plea documents, induced by Coplan’s misrepresentations, investors invested approximately $4 million with Coplan by wiring money, writing checks, or providing cash to Coplan. Rather than investing the money in the bonds as promised, Coplan used the monies from new investors to pay old investors and used the money for her personal use and benefit. Mr. Ferrer thanked the FBI and the SEC for their work on this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

>>> Thank you for using the Broward County Commission Agenda E-mail Notification System. A new Broward County Commission Agenda is available. Point your browser to http://www.broward.org/commission/welcome.htm to view

the new agenda.

CITY OF DAVIE

>>> Davie Man Pleads Guilty in Large-Dollar Fraudulent Refund Scam Involving $22 Million in Claims

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that Freddie Howard, 56, of Davie, pled guilty for his role in a large-dollar tax refund fraud scam. Sentencing for Howard is scheduled for August 29, 2014 at 10:15 a.m. Howard pled guilty to one count of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341. At sentencing, the defendant faces a maximum term of 22 years in prison. According to the plea documents, Howard operated a tax preparation business called QTS1, Inc. (Quality Tax Service) in Broward County.  Howard prepared false and fraudulent tax returns using the identity information of willing participants, as well as, stolen identity information. Howard used false and fictitious income and withholding tax information on the returns submitted to the IRS to justify fraudulent large-dollar refund requests. The requested refund amounts generally ranged from $60,000 to $1,400,000, and Howard typically requested payment of these refunds via U.S. Treasury tax refund check. To conceal his identity, Howard submitted the tax returns to the IRS by mail and did not include preparer information. Howard also blocked out the tax preparer software information, and used other people to contact the IRS to inquire about the status of the fraudulent returns. According to the plea documents, Freddie Howard submitted over $22 million in false and fraudulent large-dollar refund claims to the IRS that resulted in a payout of approximately $4.5 million on these large-dollar refund requests. As part of the scam, Howard caused a false and fraudulent tax return in the name of “J.E.” to be submitted to the IRS that resulted in a U.S. Treasury tax refund check sent to “J.E.” in Coral Springs for $398,502.52.  Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the FBI and IRS-CI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

>>>>Davie Man Pleads Guilty in Large-Dollar Fraudulent Refund Scam Involving $22 Million in Claims

Press release:Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that Freddie Howard, 56, of Davie, pled guilty for his role in a large-dollar tax refund fraud scam. Sentencing for Howard is scheduled for August 29, 2014 at 10:15 a.m. Howard pled guilty to one count of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341. At sentencing, the defendant faces a maximum term of 22 years in prison. According to the plea documents, Howard operated a tax preparation business called QTS1, Inc. (Quality Tax Service) in Broward County.  Howard prepared false and fraudulent tax returns using the identity information of willing participants, as well as, stolen identity information. Howard used false and fictitious income and withholding tax information on the returns submitted to the IRS to justify fraudulent large-dollar refund requests. The requested refund amounts generally ranged from $60,000 to $1,400,000, and Howard typically requested payment of these refunds via U.S. Treasury tax refund check. To conceal his identity, Howard submitted the tax returns to the IRS by mail and did not include preparer information. Howard also blocked out the tax preparer software information, and used other people to contact the IRS to inquire about the status of the fraudulent returns. According to the plea documents, Freddie Howard submitted over $22 million in false and fraudulent large-dollar refund claims to the IRS that resulted in a payout of approximately $4.5 million on these large-dollar refund requests. As part of the scam, Howard caused a false and fraudulent tax return in the name of “J.E.” to be submitted to the IRS that resulted in a U.S. Treasury tax refund check sent to “J.E.” in Coral Springs for $398,502.52. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the FBI and IRS-CI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the

CITY OF MIRAMAR

>>>Three Defendants Charged in Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service (USSS), announce that defendants Marlan L. Copeland, 42, and Vory V. Copeland, 40, both of Miramar, and Brannoc K. Rudd, 71, of Miami Gardens, were charged in an eighteen-count indictment for conspiring to unjustly enrich themselves by obtaining United States Department of Treasury tax refund checks to which they were not entitled for their personal use and benefit. Marlan L. Copeland and Vory V. Copeland made their initial appearances today before United States Magistrate Judge Chris M. McAliley. Defendant Rudd remains at large.

Specifically, each defendant was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, five counts of theft of government property, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, eight counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1), one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and three counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343.

According to the indictment, the defendants and their co-conspirators submitted fraudulent federal income tax returns to the United States Department of Treasury in the names, and using the social security account numbers, of individuals without their authority. The defendants and their co-conspirators obtained tax refund checks belonging to other individuals and then cashed those tax refund checks without the authority or knowledge of the taxpayers. The defendants and their co-conspirators caused over $300,000 in tax refund checks to be cashed or deposited into their bank accounts which they and their co-conspirators then retained for their personal use and benefit. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and USSS.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gera R. Peoples. An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

PALM BEACH COUNTY

>>> And to read all the Palm Beach elected leader’s financial disclosure reports go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm

MONROE COUNTY

>>>>FBI Fugitive Indicted with Committing Search and Rescue Hoax in the Florida Keys

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Rear Admiral John H. Korn, Commander, 7th Coast Guard District, announce the indictment of Aubrey Lee Price, 47, of Valdosta, Georgia, for communicating a false distress signal to the United States Coast Guard, in violation of Title 14, United States Code, Section 88(c).

The indictment charges that Price knowingly and willfully caused a false distress message to be communicated resulting in the United States Coast Guard unnecessarily attempting to save a life when in June 2012, Price mailed a suicide letter in which he claimed to have jumped off a boat to his death somewhere off the coast of Naples, Florida.  Shortly after his disappearance, on July 11, 2012, Price was indicted in the Southern District of Georgia for embezzling approximately $17 million; on January 25, 2013, Price was indicted in the Eastern District of New York for securities and wire fraud.  Both cases are still pending trial.  Price was apprehended in the state of Georgia in December 2013 during a routine traffic stop.  If convicted, Price faces a maximum possible sentence of six years in prison, and full restitution to the United States Coast Guard for the cost of the search and rescue operation that resulted from the mailing of the fraudulent suicide letter. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service.  This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Blackburn. An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

>>> EVITA AT ZIFF Ballet

ZIFF BALLET OPERA HOUSE

Evita

Tuesday, May 27 – Sunday, June 1 Eva Perón used her beauty and charisma to rise meteorically from the slums of Argentina to the presidential mansion as first lady. Adored by her people as a champion for the poor, she became one of the most powerful women in the world — while her greed, outsized ambition and fragile health made her one of the most tragic.

more…

PEACOCK FOUNDATION STUDIO Arsht Families Presents: Newton’s Planetarium Adventure Saturday, June 28 Parents and kids are welcomed to join Dr. Wonderful’s energetic sidekick, Newton, as he guides you through the solar system. Travel into Newton’s planetarium and tour the Moon, the Planets and the world of Dr. Wonderful and her friends! more…

>>>> As part of its ongoing efforts to get out the vote, the League of Women Voters of Florida wants to remind Florida voters that Sunday, May 18 marks 100 days until Florida’s August 26 primary election. Many important local races are decided at the primary level, where turnout is traditionally light and votes cast can weigh more heavily in deciding outcomes. This makes voting during the primary an issue of utmost importance.

“There will be something for everyone on the August ballot”, says Deirdre Macnab, League of Women Voters of Florida President. “Even voters registered as independents can cast a vote in local non-partisan races as well as an array of judicial races at the county and circuit levels. In many ways, your vote in the primary can have a greater impact than in November.” Most Supervisors will post sample ballots on their websites in early July. Candidate qualifying ends in late June.

The League urges all Florida residents to register to vote by the July 28 deadline. For information on how to register and step by step instructions for registration, visit the League’s website at www.BeReadyToVote.org. If you are already registered, make sure to check your voter status and get ready!

Florida makes voting easy and convenient by offering three different ways to vote: by mail, early, and on Election Day. Early voting will be available for the August primary. The League would like to remind voters who will be unable to vote on-site that any registered Florida voter can request an absentee ballot by contacting their local Supervisor of Elections.  It is also important to check that your voting information, including your address and signature, are up-to-date. “Early summer is the perfect time to get your voting house in order,” said Charley Williams, LWVF Voter Services Chair. “Call your local Supervisor of Elections office and make sure your voter file is accurate. This is particularly important if you have moved recently or if you haven’t voted in past elections. With one call, you can cover details for both the August and November elections, then relax!”

IMPORTANT DATES TO REMEMBER: Primary election: Tuesday, August 26
Deadline to register to vote: Monday, July 28 Absentee Ballots will be mailed: Between July 22 and 29 

>>> The Margulies Collection will be closed for the summer and will reopen in the fall.

EDITORIAL

>>> Threats against any County Commissioner is unacceptable and shows the community is still immature when it comes to public discourse of issues; Sosa is one of the most accessible commissioners on County dais

The idea that Miami-Dade Commissioner Chair Rebeca Sosa would find s threatening message on her home ‘door as well as her children’s asking her to support more library funding since the department is facing a massive budget hold is a black eye on the community and in no way helps resolve the budget challenge the library district  is facing and no elected official, or they’re family should face such threats. And the act shows we still have long way to go in the fight for civility in the public domain this incident should be roundly condemned for threats and intimidation behavior has no place in the political process an in Sosa’s case. She is readily accessible to her constituents and where any discussion on the matter should have taken place, with the woman who is also an educator and she understands the importance of books to a community, that teaches in the public District English as a second language in some 19 languages to some 80,000 students and local residents and this shameful and disturbing act and who did it should be taken to task for elected leaders should not have to live in fear and having that introduced into the debate is a sad commentary of the state and development and maturity of he community’s residents and while I understand the passion of many of the library advocates. This kind of overt demonstration is unacceptable and a more mature tack would have been to meet in the commissioner’s office and make your case rather than to tape a newspaper with provocative words to someone’s door, something a coward would do. For the full sad story go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/30/4147959/miami-dade-commissioner-and-her.html

Sosa

LETTERS

>>> LIFETIME FOUNDING MEMBERS & INITIAL SPONSORS IN 2000

ANGEL ESPINOSA – (Deceased) owner COCONUT GROVE DRY CLEANER’S

HUGH CULVERHOUSE, Jr

FLORIDA POWER & LIGHT www.fpl.com .

THE MIAMI HERALD     www.miamiherald.com (2000-2008)

ARTHUR HERTZ

WILLIAM HUGGETT, Seamen Attorney (Deceased)

ALFRED NOVAK

LINDA E. RICKER (Deceased)

JOHN S. and JAMES L. KNIGHT FOUNDATION  www.knightfoundation.org

THE HONORABLE STANLEY G. TATE

>>> Watchdog Report supporters – $2,000 a year

BADIA SPICES    www.badiaspices.com

RONALD HALL

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY www.miamidade.gov

UNITED WAY OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY www.unitedwaymiamidade.org

>>> Watchdog Report supporters – $1,000 a year

AKERMAN SENTERFITT   www.akerman.com

BERKOWITZ POLLACK BRANT Advisors and Accountants www.bpbcpa.com

JEFFREY L. BERKOWITZ TRUST

RON BOOK

LINDA MURPHY: Gave a new laptop in Oct. 2001 to keep me going.

WILLIAM PALMER www.shutts.com

Rbb PUBLIC RELATIONS www.rbbpr.com

ROYAL MEDIA PARTNERS  www.royalmp.com

SHUBIN & BASS     www.shubinbass.com

WILLIAMSOM AUTOMOTIVE GROUP http://williamsonautomotivegroup.com/

>>> Public, Educational & Social institutions – subscribers at $1,000 or less

CAMILLUS HOUSE, INC.   www.camillushouse.org

CITY OF MIAMI www.miamigov.com.

CITY OF CORAL GABLES www.coralgables.com

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH www.miamibeachfl.gov

CHAPMAN PARTNERSHIP FOR HOMELESS www.chapmanpartnership.org

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY  www.fiu.edu

THE STATE OF FLORIDA    www.myflorida.gov

GREATER MIAMI CHAMBER OF COMMERCE www.miamichamber.com

GREATER MIAMI CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU www.miamiandbeaches.com

HEALTH FOUNDATION OF SOUTH FLORIDA  www.hfsf.org

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY COMMISSION   www.miamidade.gov

MIAMI-DADE COMMISSION OFFICE OF THE CHAIR www.miamidade.gov

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY ETHICS & PUBLIC TRUST COMMISSION

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY HOMELESS TRUST: www.miamidade.gov/homeless/

MIAMI-DADE COLLEGE www.mdc.edu

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY INSPECTOR GENERAL www.miamidade.gov/ig

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOARD www.dadeschools.net

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS SUPT. http://superintendent.dadeschools.net/

MIAMI DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY www.miamidda.com

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST & JACKSON HEALTH SYSTEM www.jhsmiami.org

THE BEACON COUNCIL   www.beaconcouncil.com

THE CHILDREN’S TRUST www.thechildrenstrust.org

THE GOOD GOVERNMENT INITIATIVE http://goodgov.net/

THE MIAMI-DADE COUNTY LEAGUE OF CITIES www.mdclc.org

THE MIAMI FOUNDATION  www.miamifoundation.org

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA    http://www.firstgov.gov/

UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI             www.miami.edu

The Watchdog Report covers a few of the meetings attended weekly. It remains my belief that an informed public will make better decisions. Therefore, I go to meetings, make the presence of an informed citizen known, and bring the information to you.   The Watchdog Report is in the 14th year of publication and it has been an honor to be able to send this information to you. It is sent to readers in Miami-Dade, Florida, the U.S. and the world. The Watchdog Report is sent to thousands free and while readers have been prodded to subscribe the results have been mixed. Over 800 reports and Extra’s have been sent since May 5, 2000 and over two million words have been written on our community’s governments and events.  The report is an original work based on information gathered at public meetings, interviews and from documents in the public domain.

LETTER POLICY

I welcome letters via e-mail, fax, or snail mail. Letters may be edited for length or clarity and must refer to material published in the Watchdog Report.  Please see address and contact information. Please send any additions and corrections by e-mail, fax or snail mail. All corrections will be published in the next Watchdog Report. If you or your organization would like to publish the contents of this newsletter, please contact me. Please send your request to watchdogreport1@earthlink.net

Daniel A. Ricker

Publisher & Editor

Watchdog Report www.watchdogreport.net

Est. 05.05.00

Copyright © of original material, 2014, Daniel A. Ricker

>>> The Watchdog Report are now available to television stations web pages, and all the newspapers and other media in South Florida if the publishers have an interest to run part or all of the stories. Further, in 2000, I used to have some paper’s running the report in the Spanish press, that option is available again, and publishers should contact me.  The news content will not be free, but you can pick and chose the stories of interest, edit them if necessary but you must still keep the general story intact.  If you are a news outlet and would like to learn more about, the Watchdog Report and this offer contact me at watchdogreport1@earthlink.net for further information.  >>> Here is what past newspapers have written about the Watchdog Report publisher including a survey and regional study done by the U. North Carolina at Chapel Hill on the media in the southeast United States.

>>> The Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel & Sun-Sentinel articles on the Watchdog Report publisher over the years. >>> Published on September 9, 1999, Page 1EA, Miami Herald, The (FL) CITIZEN ADVOCATE’ KEEPS TABS ON POLITICIANS >>> Published on January 3, 2000, Page 1B, Miami Herald, The (FL) MIAMI-DADE WATCHDOG WILL BE MISSED >>> >>> To read the full section large two page front page story, but without the photos and smart box graphics, go to: `I Go When You Cannot’ – Sun Sentinel 20 Jan 2003 … Sometimes Dan Ricker lives in the dark so others may live in the light. … to his weekly Watchdog Report have finally mailed their checks. … http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2003-01-20/news/0301190341_1_ricker-school-board-president-miami-s-first-cuban-american >>>Watchdog Report publisher named ‘Best Citizen’ 2003 by the Miami New Times  –The publisher would like to thank the weekly alternative paper Miami New Times for bestowing their 2003 Best of Miami, ‘Best Citizen’ award to me and I am honored.  Thank you. To read the full story go to http://www.miaminewtimes.com/issues/2003-05-15/citylife2.html/1/index.html

From the spring of 2003:  U. North Carolina, Chapel Hill:  Southeast U.S. Media Report lists Watchdog Report publisher as leading Florida commentator >>> Selected excerpts from the report on Florida’s media sources. Those who do read the newspaper in Florida have a bevy of options for state government and political coverage. The dominant newspapers in the state are Knight-Ridder’s The Miami Herald (Acquired by The McClatchy Company in 2006) and the Poynter Institute’s St. Petersburg Times. Both papers endorsed Gore in 2000 but split on the 2002 gubernatorial race, with the Herald endorsing Republican incumbent Jeb Bush and the Times backing Democratic challenger Bill McBride. Daniel Ricker of The Miami Herald also writes an influential column as well as an email newsletter called the Watchdog Report that goes out to more than 100,000 subscribers. FEBRUARY 2004 – Florida: Columnists in Abundance –ERIC GAUTSCHI, graduate student, School of Journalism & Mass Communication, UNC-Chapel Hill – D) LEADING COMMENTATORS – Resource Commentator Organization Type Web site –Steve Bousquet St. Petersburg Times Column www.sptimes.com/columns/bousquet.shtml -“First Friday” WPBT TV (Miami) TV Show www.channel2.org/firstfriday/issues.html –Lucy Morgan St. Petersburg Times Column www.sptimes.com/columns/morgan.shtml –Daniel Ricker Miami Herald/Watchdog Report Newsletter >>> Readers who would like to read the complete University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Southeast United States Media Report go to view the complete report or download all the data used in this study. >>> Watchdog Report Editor’s note to the NCU/CH study: The subscriber number referenced is incorrect and applies to readership.

General subscriber’s names will not be published in the Report. To subscribe to the Watchdog Report please use the form below as a subscription invoice.

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Watchdog Report Supporters Invoice-Form

NOTE: Invoice is for Yearly supporter/sponsorship Rates: Thank you.

Supporting Sponsors $5,000

Sustaining Sponsors $2,000

Corporate Sponsors $1,000 (All levels above will be listed in the report with web-site link if desired)

Large Business Supporters $500

Small Business Supporters $250

Individual Supporter $150

Student Supporter $ 75

Any amount $

Name & Address

Please make checks payable to: Daniel A. Ricker

Send to: 3109 Grand Avenue, #125

Miami, FL 33133 To contact the Publisher please e-mail watchdogreport1@earthlink.net


 
 
 

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